Sustainable weddings

On any given weekend, following a wedding, there is a flood of excess wasted food thrown out, unused and unwanted gifts, decor and clothing ending up in landfill or collecting dust in houses. Some may be lucky enough to be sold on sites like gumtree and eBay for reuse. Weddings and any over the top event produces a significant volume of waste, pollution, and environmental damage.

With more and more couples mindful of the huge excess and waste that a wedding produces, it is more important than ever to think about a sustainable wedding.

So how can we change this culture of waste? We asked a number of experts in the field for their advice. 1. Flowers. Choose local and seasonally appropriate varieties. Avoid foam and instead place arrangements in reuseable vases or have potted plants that you or your guests can take home. 2. Dresses and suits. Rent or upcycle a second hand dress. 3. Decorations. Avoid disposable plastic like balloons. Keep decorations minimalistic, instead focus on a few key colour schemes and pieces. Smart Decorative lighting and hired fabrics. 4. Invitations. Pay a graphic designer to conjure up an amazingly elegant digital wedding invite along with an ingenious online RSVP system on your very own website. It will save on paper waste, plus make it super easy to import and keep track of everyone on a spreadsheet. You could even have an iPad lecturn for guests to "check in" upon arrival and find their allocated seat. If your really savvy and a little savage, you could incentivize early responses by allowing them the function of choosing their own seating, leaving late last minute people the indignity of sitting wherever there's space left just like when you book your airline tickets for a holiday. This is taking the burden of seating arrangements off the couple and onto the people who may have a gripe with one another. 5. Gifts. Ask politely for money rather than gifts. Have a registry that will allow returns / exchanges with a variety of gifts with different price points. Or a list of gift vouchers from your favorite stores. For bomboniere table gifts, favours such as small plants, practical things such as bath bombs,candles or soaps, jars of honey, and even a card acknowledging their contribution and a donation to a favourite charity instead. Steer clear of plastic wraps, useless junk no one uses like keyrings, frames etc. 6. Food. The biggest waste of all. Most catering places allow around 20% extra food for last minute additions and wastage. Ask for them to keep a separate bin so you can take all the preparation and veg scraps home and compost them in your garden. Have a buffet style rather than sit down and provide takeaway containers for guests to take leftovers home with them at the end of the evening. Have an accurate number of guests. Have a grazing buffet full of yummy finger food rather than a full 5 course meal that most can't finish.

So see, there are many practical ways that you can make your wedding more sustainable. If you have any ideas, feel free to add them in the comments section. We wold love to hear what you think.

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